A jack of all trades, Fritjof Fagerlund continues to improve, as shown with his second-place finish at the Ultravasan 90k. In the following interview, Fritjof talks about how his race went, how he started running while living in the US, and where else he’ll run this year.
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Fritjof Fagerlund Post-2016 Ultravasan Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Fritjof Fagerlund after his second-place finish at the 2016 Ultravasan. Congratulations.
Fritjof Fagerlund: Thank you.
iRunFar: How are you feeling this morning?
Fagerlund: I’m feeling good this morning. I’m a bit tired.
iRunFar: Is that from the race or just an early wake up a few days in a row?
Fagerlund: The race and lack of sleep.
iRunFar: Yesterday’s race was incredibly dynamic. There was a lot of movement within the men’s field. You were in a large group early in the race, and then the field split up and you weren’t always with the lead?
Fagerlund: No, I was pretty much with the lead until I lost it in the end.
iRunFar: There were nine guys together early.
Fagerlund: Early, I was just in the back of that pack.
iRunFar: Then a lot of the runners come from particularly a road background and were a little afraid of the trail section. What did you think of the 15k on the trails?
Fagerlund: That was a very easy section for me because it felt… the first part, Steve Way, who is always a good road runner, sped up on the first part. That was a fast part. Then we came onto the trail and I was, Oh, no, it is very easy. I just wanted to take it easy in the beginning and see what was happening. There was no point in trying to speed up there, I felt.
iRunFar: You weren’t going for the first preem?
iRunFar: Approaching the second… Bergspris, some people started pulling ahead—Arnaud [Perrignon] and Patrick [Reagan]?
iRunFar: Patrick Reagan, I think, went with him a little bit?
Fagerlund: Not too much. He was behind, but I don’t think he really went for that prize.
iRunFar: You weren’t trying to stay with them? You were trying to run your own race then?
Fagerlund: Yeah, I was kind of thinking that if they want to spend energy there, people have done that mistake before.
iRunFar: Then when did you decide to take off? How did you find yourself alone in the lead?
Fagerlund: That’s when we came into Evertsberg, where the spurtpris was. I had a very quick… I passed through that checkpoint very fast. I saw that Pat, I don’t know what he was doing, if he was having trouble with the bottles or…
iRunFar: He was changing socks.
Fagerlund: He was changing socks. I came out and I was just a little bit behind Arnaud. I knew that I’m a good downhiller. I wasn’t really fast. I was just crawling past him. Then I thought, Oh, now I’m going to see what happens if I fall down these hills.
iRunFar: You ended up building a good lead. What happened?
Fagerlund: I didn’t have the strength in my legs to really keep it up to the end. I got really tired somewhere around Hökberg, like 20k to the finish. With 5k left, I was totally done in my legs. I was almost cramping. I really had to fight it to get to the finish.
iRunFar: There was speculation from some informed people that maybe keeping second place was going to be tough.
Fagerlund: I felt that myself.
iRunFar: Do you still think it was one of your best performances in running?
Fagerlund: It might have been. I think Comrades where I “only” finished 14th felt like a better race still. I also had such a good feeling in that race because I was conservative in the beginning, and I had so much energy in the end.
iRunFar: Fun catching people.
Fagerlund: This was the opposite. I was careful in the beginning, but then in the end I was…
iRunFar: It was almost the perfect race. A lot of people in this race have a road background and are road specialists. You have run a wide variety of races really well. You’ve run well at the Trail World Championships. You’ve run well at World 100k, Comrades. You won the 45k race here last year. How do you train to run so many disciplines well?
Fagerlund: I guess I try to train all of them. I actually started with trail running, and I really love running the trails. I don’t have the possibility to run it that much now, so that’s why I’m running roads. That’s why I have both.
iRunFar: You live in Uppsala outside of Stockholm, and it’s flat farmland?
Fagerlund: Yes, it’s very flat. The highest hill is 30 meters elevation change.
iRunFar: This was a hilly course for you compared to your normal training?
iRunFar: So how do you prepare? Last year you ran the World Trail Championships in Annecy. How did you prepare for the mountains there?
Fagerlund: Actually, I prepared most of it in Uppsala with those 30-meter hills. Because I didn’t have the chance to do much… ideally, I’d have been able to go somewhere for at least a couple of weeks for some mountain training, but I didn’t have the chance to do that.
iRunFar: You have a bit of a good but difficult decision to make. You’ve been selected for Swedish 100k team for the championships as well as the Trail World Championships team, but there are only a few weeks. How will you decide?
Fagerlund: The problem with that decision is that I’d love to do the trail run in Portugal. It seems like a really nice race in a national park. It’s probably very beautiful and a great experience to do it. The problem is I’ll probably do a little bit better at the 100k Worlds. There are four weeks between. If I want to optimize for the road race, I probably better just do that one.
iRunFar: So it’s a little bit of passion versus performance?
iRunFar: What’s your history with sports, and how did you get into trail running?
Fagerlund: I guess it started when I did my post-doc in Colorado in 2007 and 2008. That’s where I started running at all. That was in the mountains.
iRunFar: Were you in Boulder?
Fagerlund: I was in Golden. I was running Boulder also quite a lot because of the guys there.
iRunFar: So you started running in the Front Range of Colorado?
iRunFar: Then you came home to Sweden.
Fagerlund: Yes, when I came home, I didn’t find that running… I think the scene has changed in Sweden. Since then, we’ve gotten a lot of races in Sweden that didn’t exist in 2008 when I came back. Since then it’s been kind of gradually increasing. At one point, I heard about the 100k World Championships. I thought maybe I should try this. There was also the Swedish National Championships. I got selected to the Swedish team. I’ve become a little more serious.
iRunFar: You keep improving.
Fagerlund: Yeah, it has been like that. Actually, I’m surprised myself. I feel like I just keep getting older.
iRunFar: How old are you?
iRunFar: So we were here at Ultravasan this weekend. Is there any other race in Sweden you’d recommend to someone from outside the country to come to run?
Fagerlund: I think there are quite many races here. I don’t know the ultra races that well in Sweden.
iRunFar: How about shorter trail races?
Fagerlund: If you like to run the really big ones, there is 8:34 Leadingloppet 30k trail race which is a really big trail race.
iRunFar: It’s one of the Swedish classic races?
Fagerlund: Yeah, it’s a great atmosphere there.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your strong run here, and best of luck at either of the Trail World Championships or the World 100k.
Fagerlund: Thank you.